Spotlight on Hillsborough – Stormwater Program of the Month!

Each month we will be featuring the outstanding work that our CWEP Partners are doing to keep our stormwater clean around the region and in your communities. This month we’re focusing on Hillsborough as they work to grow their stormwater education and outreach programs and maximize their impact with the community!

Stormwater Almanac

The Hillsborough Stormwater and Environmental Services division publishes a Stormwater Almanac quarterly, featuring educational articles and updates on Town stormwater projects. The most recent issue highlighted the Town’s stormwater retrofit that directed additional stormwater runoff to a bioretention cell in Cates Creek park.

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Volunteers Help Maintain Wetland

Triangle Fly Fishers, a local fly fishing and conservation group recently completed maintenance at the Town of Hillsborough’s stormwater wetland located at Gold Park. Volunteers removed cattails, unwanted woody vegetation, as well as trash and debris. As part of the effort, Stormwater and Environmental Services Manager, Terry Hackett explained how the wetland functions to remove stormwater pollution which benefits the nearby Eno River.

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Citizens Academy

Stormwater and Environmental Services staff presented to the Town of Hillsborough’s 4th Citizens Academy. The Citizens Academy is a 7-week long program aimed at helping citizens increase their knowledge of town government, as well as their interest and ability in influencing and participating in town decisions.  Staff provided an overview of the town’s stormwater program, including the town’s stormwater management utility and associated fee. Participants then had the opportunity to ask questions to gain more insight about the town’s efforts to reduce stormwater runoff pollution.

Earth Evening 2018

Every year on the Friday night of Earth Week, the division speaks with the public and leads hands-on activities for all ages during the annual Earth Evening event at the Market Pavilion in River Park, downtown Hillsborough. This event is organized by Orange County Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation. The division also leads similar activities at local schools throughout the year.

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SCM Recognition Program

The division is kicking off a recognition program for owners of Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) this month. The town requires SCM owners to maintain their SCMs and submit annual inspection reports. The program will recognize those property owners who have exceptional compliance records and consistently maintain SCMs, following all applicable maintenance requirements. While recognizing deserving property owners, we also hope to achieve greater public awareness of our SCM inspection program.

For more information about the great work Hillsborough is doing, feel free to reach out to the Town’s Stormwater Coordinator Heather Fisher at 919-296-9622!

City of Raleigh 2018 Capture it! Stormwater Arts Contest Winners Announced

Congratulations to the City of Raleigh’s 2018 Capture it! Stormwater Arts Contest winners! Winners for the three categories below were announced at the 11th Annual Environmental Awards in March:

Video Winner – “Stormwater Video” by Ryann Bauguess, Rachel Young, and Kira Badrova

 

Check out the winning video below!

Storm Drain Stencil Design Winner  “All Drains to the Neuse” by Genna Stott

Storm Drain Stencil Winner 2018

Rain Barrel Artwork Design Winner – “Which Side are you on?” by Izabel de Angelo, Davis Lingle, Jonathan Clymer, and Taylor Gantt.

Rain Barrel Winner 2018

Spotlight on Durham: Stormwater Program of the Month!

Each month we will be featuring the outstanding work that our CWEP Partners are doing to keep our stormwater clean around the region and in your communities. This month we’re focusing on Durham and their longstanding Creek Week efforts, as well as their pledge to keep more plastic waste out of our waters!

There is a lot going on in March for both the City and County of Durham, as well as their many environmental partners in the community! Durham’s Creek Week has been an established event for the last decade, and each year it grows and evolves even more. In conjunction with this year’s Creek Week, there are lots of other great events, initiatives, and opportunities to get involved with cleaning up your environment and keeping our water safe. For a list of all Creek Week events, check out this website: Durham Creek Week Events Page.  Whether you’re interested in a litter cleanup event, planting a tree, or even a canoe paddle, you’ll definitely find something fun to do!

Skip the Straw!

More than 500,000,000 straws are used once and tossed every day in this country! Mayor Steve Schewel has proclaimed March “No Straws Month” in Durham: “Single use plastics that find their way onto our streets get washed through storm drains into local creeks and all the way to the ocean,” says Mayor Schewel. “Plastic litter is a roadside eyesore, and it also can be fatal to river and ocean animals.” To kick off the month, a screening of the environmental awareness documentary “Straws” by Linda Booker was provided at the Durham Arts Council on February 22nd – it was a packed house with help from Bull City Burger and Brewery, Pompieri Pizza, Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic, Keep Durham Beautiful, The City of Durham Stormwater & GIS Services, Don’t Waste DurhamCompostNow, and other local environmentally conscious businesses!

Check out the trailer for “Straws” and learn more about this plastic pollution!

Several restaurants, bars, business, and other entities have taken the pledge to reduce or eliminate straw use in their establishments – some bars have even permanently moved to using only metal or other green straws! If you want to challenge yourself to have an impact on this type of plastic waste (and we promise, it’s won’t be too hard!), take the pledge at the link below:

Take the Pledge to SKIP THE STRAW here!

Don’t Litter, Man!

Don’t Litter, Man Full Video

Local Durhamite Pierce Freelon leads a litter art and beats workshop for youth at The Scrap Exchange to show that litter goes all the way to the ocean. Check out this fun video and show it to your kids, classroom, or even your coworkers!

City of Raleigh Capture It! Stormwater Art Contest Open Now!

Getting Students Interested in Water Quality Through Art and Film

The City of Raleigh Division of Stormwater Management is currently accepting entries for its ‘Capture It! Stormwater Arts Contest’. This is an opportunity for high school students to capture the importance of stormwater runoff through art and film in a way that will bring more awareness to the community about improving the water quality of Raleigh’s streams and lakes.

Students are encouraged to create one of the following to show residents how they can help keep streams clean.

  • A 60-second video;
  • A painting to be placed on a rain barrel; or,
  • A drawing to be used as a stencil for City of Raleigh storm drain covers.

Registration closes Friday, January 26, 2018. Winners in each category will receive a $300 prize, and will be featured at the 2018 Raleigh Environmental Awards. So get out there, make some art, and change your community for the better!

New CWEP Stormwater Video Heading to a Theater Near You this December!

We are very excited to release our new animated stormwater video that we’ve been working hard on over the last few months! This 30-second version of our full-length video will be shown in theaters across the region this holiday season, so tell your friends: If you’re headed to the movies between December 15th and 29th, grab a seat a little early to catch this ad rolling a few minutes before the previews start!

You can find our full-length videos in both English and Spanish, as well as individual pollutant spots you can use at home, at work, or in the classroom on our Resources page.

Spotlight on Chapel Hill – Stormwater Program of the Month!

Each month we will be featuring the outstanding work that our CWEP Partners are doing to keep our stormwater clean around the region and in your communities. This month we’re focusing on Chapel Hill and their robust stormwater program. Check out their fun local events educating their community about the importance of clean water!

2017 FestiFALL!

The Chapel Hill FESTIFALL was held on October 1, 2017. Participants were able to interact with Chapel Hill stormwater staff and get watershed smart!

During the FestiFALL, the Chapel Hill Stormwater Management’s booth had three stations:

  1. Find Your Watershed on the local map;

IMG_0158Jason Salat, Chapel Hill Stormwater Management, helps a resident find her address on the map and identify the subwatershed in which she lives.

2. Learn about pollution sources and how we can prevent water pollution with the Enviroscape watershed model;

IMG_0167Visitors of all ages learn about stormwater runoff and how we can prevent pollution through the Enviroscape watershed model activity.

3) Take a Pledge and get your photo taken with Grandma Beaver!

Jayden and Pedro make a pledge to pick up litter!Jayden and Pedro promise not to litter to keep our water cleaner and get their pictures taken with Grandma Beaver.

 

PERFECT WEATHER, PERFECT TEAMWORK!

The annual litter cleanup on Bolin Creek was held on Saturday, October 21, 2017 was a lot of fun for the 47 volunteers who learned about the watershed, then spruced up a public housing community and paths along the creek with removal of about 500 pounds of trash.  The 75% reduction of trash from a year ago was significant and illustrated better awareness and care of our environment as well as no recent flooding.

Perfect fall weather helped participants enjoy nature while working together during the cool morning.  Many thanks go to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools’ Blue Ribbon Mentor Program, Chapel Hill High School Student Environmental Education Coalition, Carrboro High School AP Environmental Science students, Chapel Hill Police Department and academy recruits, Stormwater Management’s volunteer stream monitors, Chapel Hill Public Housing staff, and families and friends who wanted to lend a helping hand!

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The only litter returned to the ground was a piece of wet cardboard under which two marbled salamanders guarded their eggs, waiting for a rain to hatch. Click this link to learn more about these critters!

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For more information about Chapel Hill Stormwater Management and the work they are doing to keep our water clean and healthy, contact Wendy Smith, Community Education Coordinator, at 919-969-7246.

 

Spotlight on Zebulon – Stormwater Program of the Month!

Each month we will be featuring the outstanding work that our CWEP Partners are doing to keep our stormwater clean around the region and in your communities. This month we’re focusing on Zebulon and how they’ve worked hard over the last few years to grow their program and educate their citizens on the importance of keeping stormwater clean and green!

Since 2012, the Town of Zebulon has worked to raise awareness of stormwater pollution and ways to prevent it. Below is Zebulon’s clean stormwater mascot, Mr. Drip. They have added him to all of their literature and to their website.

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Mr. Drip reminds residents to keep the drains clean.

In 2013, the town of Zebulon purchased a new sweeper and wrapped it with Mr. Drip, the “Only Rain in the Drain” slogan, and the reminder to not put grass clippings, leaves, motor oil, or trash in the storm drains. The message is on display every time Zebulon Public Works sweeps a town street, another aspect of keeping non-stormwater items from going down the drain as the street sweeper catches debris before it can enter the drain. “Stormwater” magazine featured their efforts and the sweeper in their June 2013 edition.

magazine clippingZebulon’s street sweeper made the June 2013 issue of Stormwater Magazine

To reach every resident who receives a municipal water bill, Zebulon developed a series of utility bill stuffers on individual topics and sends them out with the monthly water bills. The stuffers are an easy, low-cost way to keep residents thinking about prevention of stormwater pollution and allow us to promote specific ways the residents can help their town keep the stormwater system clean.

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Several times a year, when the Zebulon Public Works department has the opportunity to speak with youths and adults about stormwater pollution, they demonstrate their Enviroscape model. Tony Rose, Stormwater Superintendent, uses the model to show how fertilizers, chemicals, automotive oil and grease, animal waste, pesticides, and trash enter the storm drain system and travel to nearby rivers and streams. Tony offers tips to prevent contamination and preserve natural waters.

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Tony Rose, Stormwater Superintendent, using the Enviroscape model to explain stormwater pollution and ways to prevent it.

Civic group involvement enhances Zebulon’s efforts to educate people and maintain a clean stormwater system. A team of employees from Glaxo helped Zebulon Public Works mark storm drains in several neighborhoods as reminders to keep trash out of the drains. Rotary Club members participated in a litter sweep along one of Zebulon’s busier routes. All of these efforts help to raise awareness of the need to maintain a clean stormwater system throughout Zebulon.

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Glaxo employee marks storm drain to remind neighbors not to dump in the drain and pollute the Little River. Decal pictured below.

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Rotary Club members collect trash along Alt- Hwy 264E to prevent trash from entering the storm drain system and, eventually, the nearby streams.

Keep your Community Beautiful on “America Recycles Day”!

Here at CWEP, we know that clean and healthy water goes beyond just keeping leaves and oil out of our storm drains. It means supporting an entire system of sustainability and keeping our nation trash-free. One of the ways we can achieve this goal is through recycling. Today, the national non-profit Keep America Beautiful, which aims to increase national appearance through community involvement in cleanup and beautification projects, is hosting their annual event, “America Recycles Day.” America Recycles Day happens every year on November 15th, and communities from all over the nation participate with a variety of events from social media campaigns to local cleanups to school recycling education. There are over 2,504 registered events this year alone!

Here in North Carolina, we have a number of events, some of which are hosted by CWEP members. The Veterans Employment Base Camp and Organic Garden (VEBCOG) in New Bern is hosting a Feed the Worms event in which they will be educating the public about compost and collecting vegetable food scraps, newspapers and cardboard to feed their worms over the winter. On Saturday, November 18th, CWEP member Spring Lake will be hosting a fall litter sweep to keep their town looking its best. During the event Spring Lake will also be accepting non-standard recyclables, such as e-waste, tires, eye glasses, cellphones, and medicine. If you don’t live in New Bern or Spring Lake, don’t worry, The State of North Carolina Division of Environmental Assistance & Customer Service (DEACS) Recycling and Materials Management Section (RAMMS) is also hosting an event for America Recycles Day. Their event is social media-based and asks state agencies, businesses, and citizens to take photos of people who are recycling using the hashtag #CaughtRecycling. They also ask that people tag them in the posts on Twitter and Facebook at @RecycleMoreNC as well as sharing other pictures of their community’s events.

If your community got involved (or if you or someone you know got #CaughtRecycling), be sure to let them know!

There’s More Than One Way to Cut a Turkey: Alternative Methods of Grease Disposal

Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans create 25% more waste than during the rest of the year? Yikes. That’s a lot of waste. And much of that waste comes from cooking, especially grease and fat from our favorite holiday turkeys and hams. As we learned in last week’s blog post, grease can cause a major hazard if not disposed of correctly. This holiday season, make sure to keep our stormwater clean and our stormwater systems functioning at peak efficiency by keeping it out of the drain. You may choose to dispose of grease in the trash or designated grease recycling centers.

However, disposal isn’t your only option for keeping our sewers fat-free. If you’re big into reusing, don’t worry, you don’t have to throw away or recycle your oil — you can use it for future cooking or crafts! You can use leftover grease and fat to make a roux, garnish your soup, sauté greens, or make salad dressings, bread, or pasta sauce. On the craft side, you can make candles, make dog and bird treats, or add it to your compost. For a full list of ideas of how to reuse oil, as well as information on what kind of oils to use for what cooking, check out this page from Fix.com

 

 

(Featured image from the municipal government of Addison, TX. Source)

What Lurks Below

Last month, London sewage workers discovered an enormous greaseball blocking the pipes in the Whitechapel neighborhood, creating a nasty situation and limiting water flow. The ball, weighing 130 tons, took 3 weeks for workers to break down using high-pressure water jets. It was made of a combination of hardened grease and fat from food production as well as wet wipes, diapers, and other non-flushables that had been flushed down the toilet. Experts say that if the ball had not been caught when it was, waste could have started to burst from manholes and flow through the streets of London. Watch the London Fatberg in action here.

It’s not just London that’s in danger of having its sewage system ruined by improper waste disposal; many towns and cities may have greaseballs lurking beneath them, too! So how can we make sure our pipes are functional and our streets stay feces-free? There are many things we can do in our kitchens and restaurants to dispose of cooking grease, fats, and oils the right way and keep our pipes flowing smoothly, especially as the holidays approach!

  1. Make sure to let the grease cool before either pouring it in the trash or into a storage container.
  2. Once you’ve poured out the grease properly, make sure to wipe out your pots and pans with a paper towel to remove any grease that might be stuck to your cookware. Be sure to do the same with plates!
  3. Check if your municipality has a grease recycling program like Durham, which accepts and recycles cooking oil free of charge.
  4. As for toilets, remember that only toilet paper should be flushed. Most wet wipes are not meant to go through our pipes and sanitary napkins and tampons should never be flushed either. We are fortunate that our sewage treatments systems are top-notch, but that doesn’t mean we should overload them. When in doubt, throw it out!